‘It’s the Economy Stupid,’ New Poll Shows Tightening Races for Governor and Senate 

Even after decades of high inflation, pandemic and the fall of Roe v. Wade points to a close race for governor in Connecticut, mirroring results four years ago between Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Bob Stefanowski, a new poll commissioned by CT Examiner points to.

In a three-way contest, Gov. Ned Lamont leads Bob Stefanowski 46%-40%, with 5% opting for Independent Party nominee Rob Hotaling and 10% a tie, according to the bipartisan poll released on Saturday.

The CT Examiner/Fabrizio, Lee & Associates poll, conducted Oct. 10-13, polled 1,200 likely voters and has an error rate of +/- 2.8%.

The numbers suggest a significantly closer race and voter familiarity with Stefanowski than an earlier Quinnipiac University poll of 1,911 likely voters, conducted Sept. 15-19, which did not include Hotaling.

“The economy is clearly what people care about, and that’s what they notice,” said Steven Moore, a professor of political science at Wesleyan University.

CT Examiner/Fabrizio, Lee & Associates data shows that 24% of likely voters cite inflation as the most important issue in their election for governor, followed by jobs/economy at 14% and abortion at 11%.

“Inflation and general economic pessimism are creating some real headwinds for Democrats, and that extends to a state like Connecticut,” said Prof. Logan Dancey of Wesley.

Dancey told CT Examiner that the results for the governor’s race were about what he expected.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Lamont topped his 2018 performance,” Dancey said.

Paul Herrson, a political scientist at the University of Connecticut, said Lamont’s lead over Stefanowski, if sustained, would actually be a “big win” given the pandemic and the economy “not doing so well.”

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“People’s lives have been massively disrupted, and if you’re president or governor [the] State, you are the lightning rod for people’s anger,” Herrson said.

Onotse Omoyeni, press secretary for the Lamont campaign, said the poll showed that Stefanowski’s positions on social issues were negatively affecting the Republican’s popularity.

“The governor remains focused on kick-starting Connecticut’s economy, unburdening Connecticut families and getting our financial house in order,” Omoyeni said in a statement to CT Examiner. “As was made clear during this race, Bob’s extreme anti-election and anti-gun safety positions — coupled with his constant negativity — continue to turn voters against his candidacy.”

But Stefanowski said in a statement the poll results were good news for his campaign and reflected growing support for his candidacy.

“This survey shows the dynamic that I have felt on site for weeks. Governor Lamont had four years to fix the state and he failed. Higher taxes make inflation worse, people feel less secure and our national economy is sweating,” Stefanowski told CT Examiner. “Every day more people are realizing that one-party rule is failing us and that it is time for a change. Laura Devlin and I have detailed plans to make CT more affordable and safer on day one and we look forward to the final weeks of this race.”

According to the new poll, President Joe Biden’s approval/disapproval among Connecticut’s likely voters mirrors national polls, with 43% approval to 53% disapproval, but Stefanowski was the choice of just 70% of those negative respondents.

The latest polls also suggest few likely voters are splitting their ballots, at least at the state and national levels, with Senator Richard Blumenthal leading challenger Leora Levy by just 5 points, 49% to 44%, with 7% are tied – numbers that surprised Dancey.

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“I would have expected Blumenthal to have a bigger lead,” said Dancey.

Ty McEachern, spokesman for Senator Blumenthal’s campaign, said Blumenthal will keep moving forward.

“Senator Blumenthal is working to be Connecticut’s choice for Senate while his opponent is Donald Trump’s choice,” McEachern said in a statement. “As always, he is focused on his work and delivering results for the people of Connecticut. He will continue to work as if he were 10 points behind.”

According to Dancey, the tight numbers for the Senate race could continue to swing in Blumenthal’s favor as people “tune in” to what’s going on.

Leora Levy’s campaign said the numbers reflect Levy’s popularity among voters.

“It took until mid-October, but finally a public poll reflects the reality of this race: Leora Levy finds herself neck-and-neck with margin for error and Dick Blumenthal, a thirty-seven-year-old career politician. year lead. Dick Blumenthal is below 50 percent despite having spent more than $5.3 million on advertising since mid-June,” Levy campaign spokesman Tim Saler said in a statement.

Herrson said he was also struck by how many voters said abortion was the number one issue given the usual importance of economic issues.

“I don’t always like to quote the Clinton campaign, but ‘It’s the economy, dumbass.’ And the economy almost always comes first for voters,” Herrson said. “That abortion is so close to jobs and the economy — that’s a pretty big problem.”

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Moore said he, too, didn’t expect abortion to be such a big problem in Connecticut because of the state’s liberal abortion laws. But looking at the poll data, he said abortion appears to be a bigger issue for Democrats than Republican voters in this race.

“It was clear that the pro-life vote was actually much more of a statement that they were concerned about the economy,” Moore said.

While abortion isn’t a crucial issue for many voters, women probably overwhelmingly prefer Lamont, 55% to 36%, and Blumenthal, 56% to 36%, according to the new poll.

Asked whether, given the current polarization, it’s possible for a Connecticut gubernatorial candidate to win by double digits, as suggested by last month’s polls, Moore said voters tended to “come home” in the run-up to the election. to vote for their favorite political parties .

“Increased polarization thwarts accountability to some degree,” Moore said. “You really don’t have to bring a case based on your record. You just have to argue that you are not the other person.”

It’s the first election poll sponsored by nearly four-year-old online news startup CT Examiner. The nonpartisan poll was conducted by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, an Alexandria, VA-based pollster with a who’s who list of corporate and Republican clients. Fabrizio previously served as chief researcher in five presidential campaigns and was named 2017 “Polster of the Year” by the American Association of Political Consultants.

The survey is based on a random sample of adults who were contacted via mobile (35%), text-to-web (35%) and 30% via landline. The questions and crosstabs are available here and here.


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